MySpace’s Shaky Safety Balance

MySpace wants to be the model citizen of the social networking world. And that role, it turns out, may be trickier than it seems.Monday, News Corp.’s social networking site teamed up with attorneys general from 49 states to announce a set of industry guidelines for keeping kids safe on social networking sites. The Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking outlined changes on MySpace to protect children from sexual predators and obscene content, including clearer methods of reporting abusive content and safer default privacy settings for users below the age of 18.But another proposed safeguard, controlling who can create a profile on the site based on the user’s age, has wedged MySpace into a tough position. The site has pledged to “consider” working with a third-party service that would maintain a registry of minors’ e-mail addresses, allowing parents to add their childrens’ names to the list and prevent them from creating a profile. That plan has raised the hackles of privacy advocates, while safety-concerned government officials argue the filtering system still hasn’t gone far enough.

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